This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Scripture in context

When an outstanding young pastor like Isaac Villegas has his credentials suspended (“MC USA Board Member Resigns After Same-Sex Wedding,” June 6) by Virginia Mennonite Conference and feels pressure to resign from the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, it is time to rethink church policy on gay marriage. VMC may lose other fine pastors in the coming years for the same reason.

I recommend we stop reading our Bible “on the flat,” as if it dropped out of the sky written in American English. Instead, let’s read it in the contexts of the cultures from which both the Old and New Testaments emerged.

The Bible never talks about gay marriage, because it did not exist then. Marriage was for procreation — though it was quite “natural” for (married) Greco-Roman men to use people of either gender for sex, so long as the higher-status male was the active partner. The Bible never talks about female-female sexual expression, except possibly in one debatable verse in Rom. 1:26. For at least a thousand years, nobody seemed to care what women did with each other so long as they performed for their husbands.

Villegas held a marriage ceremony for two lesbians. The Bible never forbids this. So is there something about male-on-male sex that God, or the culture, did forbid? Yes indeed. In societies that valued male honor above all else, Hebrew law insisted that a man should not be dishonored by being treated like a woman. Does this sound like God — or ancient culture? Read Judges 19.

Reta Halteman Finger
Harrisonburg, Va.

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